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Panthers add depth on defensive line

By Mike Cranston
Associated Press
CHARLOTTE ó The Carolina Panthers addressed their lack of depth on the defensive line by agreeing Monday with veteran free-agent Darwin Walker on the terms of a one-year deal.
The 6-foot-3, 294-pound defensive tackle was let go by Chicago in February when the Bears declined to pick up a $5.2 million contract option. Agent Al Irby said the Panthers and Atlanta Falcons had shown interest, but Walker wanted to play close to his boyhood home of Walterboro, S.C.
“He had an injury-riddled year last year with Chicago, which he was very disappointed in because it cost him millions of dollars not having his option picked up,” Irby said. “Darwin didn’t want to go out like that. So he’s been down in Miami, working very, very hard. He’s bound and determined to redeem himself after last year.”
Walker, who turns 31 in June, played in 11 games with seven starts in 2007 and finished with 17 tackles and one sack. Before that, Walker was a five-year starter in Philadelphia. He had a career-best 71/2 sacks with the Eagles in 2002.
The Panthers have little depth at defensive tackle after trading Kris Jenkins in the offseason and deciding not to re-sign Kindal Moorehead. Sixth-round pick Nick Hayden of Louisville was the only defensive lineman the Panthers took in last weekend’s draft.
Maake Kemoeatu and Damione Lewis are expected to start training camp as the starting defensive tackles, but Walker will challenge them.
Irby declined to reveal the deal’s financial figures, but said it was the second time the Panthers had offered Walker a contract since the start of free agency.
“He turned them down and he also turned down Atlanta,” Irby said. “He just wasn’t happy with the terms. But now we’ve come to terms on a one-year deal and Darwin is basically going to play to reset his value.”
The Panthers were also busy Monday signing college players who were not drafted to fill out their roster for this weekend’s three-day minicamp.
The Panthers were also busy Monday securing 10 undrafted rookies to fill out the roster for this weekend’s three-day minicamp.
Among the group is quarterback Taylor Tharp of Boise State. The Panthers need an extra arm for the minicamp, since Jake Delhomme remains sidelined as he recovers from reconstructive elbow surgery.
The Panthers also signed defensive end Casper Brinkley of South Carolina; tight end Chris Conklin of Wingate; cornerback Cortney Grixby of Nebraska; fullback Breyone Evans of Massachusetts; safety Joseph Fields of Syracuse; defensive tackle Brandon Jenkins of Mississippi; receiver Damon Morton of Colorado State, cornerback Darren Toney of Arkansas State and punter Dan Ziedman of Idaho State.

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